Nothing Wrong With Asking Why

Said head coach Sean Payton, the former Cowboys assistant who also offered Thomas a contract the day of his visit, when finding out he agreed in principle with the Cowboys "Hey, he's a guy that we liked a lot. Obviously we had an interest, and we think he's a good football player." 

Plus there is this: Remember the Cowboys' game against the Dolphins in Week 2? Remember the Cowboys leading only 10-6 at halftime, and trailing 13-10 after Miami's opening drive in the second half - this against the eventual 1-15 Dolphins? You remember Tony Romo completing just 9 of 17 passes for 114 yards and no touchdowns, with a highly mediocre 74.1 QB rating in the first half? You realize that the 186 yards passing in that game were the fewest by Romo until the 86 in the abbreviated performance against the Redskins in the season finale? 

Naw, you probably don't. You just remember 37-20, the Cowboys having scored 82 points in the opening two games of the season to start off 2-0 for the first time since the 1999 season. 

Well, tell you what I remember. I remember Romo telling me a while afterward the Dolphins' defense was extremely difficult to play against. And he said one reason was the Thomas' ability to play the pass from his middle linebacker position; that he still had the speed and savvy to get depth under all those throws down the middle. And I'm darn sure you don't remember Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, he of the 96-catch season, caught only two passes in that game, matching his season low. 

Who knows, maybe the Cowboys signed Thomas to compete for a starting job. At worst, maybe he lands on the nickel defense as one of the two inside linebackers. Kevin Burnett manned one of those spots, mostly for his versatility. Roy Williams normally manned the other, mostly to move him out of harm's way. And I'm guessing Thomas can at least cover as well as Williams inside, and I'm darn sure he would play the run on third down infinitely better. 

Again, what's to lose, especially since Burnett is in the final year of his four-year deal and Williams will be in the third year of his five-year extension, possibly the put-up or shut-up season for him at last? 

Now then, this is all predicated on Thomas being healthy, meaning no more head problems. He says he is, and that he wouldn't risk his health just to play a 13th season, and certainly not for what has to be a cut in pay. Obviously the Patriots, Saints and Cowboys medical folks must have passed him on a physical, otherwise offers would not have been made. 

But still, when it comes to concussion problems and the after-affects, this isn't as cut and dried as examining the progress of a broken bone or MRI-ing a reconstructed knee. Some doubt must linger, meaning the Cowboys must hedge their bets. It's not as if they can take a hammer to his helmet to test his ability to sustain a blow.  

And to me, that would mean not immediately cutting this guy or trading that guy just because you are signing Thomas. You've got to play the what-if game, especially on this one - unless of course you were going to get rid of a particular player regardless. 

Plus cutting or trading guys costs. Cut or trade Carpenter, as many of you are suggesting, would cost the Cowboys $4.5 million this year if done before June 1 or $1.5 million this year and $3 million next if later. The same with Ayodele, the guy it would seem Thomas might challenge for a starting job. The Cowboys still must account for three-fifths of his prorated $5 million signing bonus. That comes to $3 million if not on the roster before June 1 or $1 million this year and $2 million next if he vanishes afterward. 

Hey, cap space is cap space, no matter what the base salary savings might be. Expensive to acquire guys and expensive to erase what you might perceive a mistake, no matter whose it is. I realize the money has been spent, but those NFL pencil-necks are sticklers for making teams account for every penny spent. 

So, and without sounding too politically charged, while most of us ask why, the Cowboys are asking why not - that is, when it comes to signing Thomas. 

If they are wrong, it's a million-dollar mistake, assuming the reported numbers are indeed accurate and they realize the error of

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